Wednesday, 11 April 2012

The Flip

Many years ago I read a warning that said if you meditate be careful ‘as you may be grabbed by the cosmic Buddha’. This warning indicates that if you meditate something may happen that is not of your control. It was said as a warning because there are many reasons why we may meditate and sometimes these reasons are not serious. We may get more than we bargained for. I asked a friend many years ago who was interested in meditation and spirituality if there was a pill he could take that would give him instant ‘enlightenment’ would he take it, he did not hesitate he said no. His reply indicates to me that none of us know what enlightenment is so why would we want it. We may have our own ideas about what it is but still the truth must be that we do not know. Even if we think it is a state of perfect bliss I am sure there is a part of us that has a doubt. This is natural because this tends to be the case when we do not know. The word enlightenment in the Buddhist sense must be a word describing something that can never be known. This word can certainly not be known prior to ‘enlightenment’ or after. It is obvious that it cannot be known before as we clearly do not know what it is apart from our beliefs about what we think it is. It cannot be known after because who is it that would know. If there is any knowing it is the knowing of the ego. The ego has many reasons why it may wish to be enlightened but these reasons all involve a desire for power of some kind. The person who talked of being grabbed by the cosmic Buddha was a Buddhist. This can be put another way that is not particularly Buddhist. There is consciousness and there is the ego, the ego arises in consciousness and at a certain point when we are young takes over the show. That is, ego believes itself to exist as an entity apart from consciousness or separate from consciousness. The ego does not exist as an entity any more than this computer I am using right now exists as an entity. The computer or the ego have a use but something very strange has occurred if we think that the computer or the ego are conscious of anything. Artificial intelligence seems to me to be about something similar; how to make it appear that a machine has consciousness. My guess is that this could never happen, a machine will never be conscious but I have no doubt that we will reach a point where a machine mimics and even enhances many of the tasks that a human is able to do. We can program a machine to play chess so that it may win against a human being but this is not consciousness. Consciousness is what makes such things possible and this is true also of the ego. Consciousness is what makes the ego possible and the ego could not exist without consciousness. Consciousness on the other hand can exist quite happily without the ego in fact it always has because the ego cannot truly be said to exist. We are all on a journey towards what I call the ‘flip’. All our striving to be free of suffering whatever form that striving may take whether we like it or not is leading us towards the ‘flip’. We are not able to control this journey in any way yet the mechanism for this occurrence is already working. When suffering is eventually truly seen to be the product of belief the flip will take place - from ego being the dominant part of us a flip occurs in which consciousness is seen to be what it has always been. Consciousness is what we really are and although the ego has a place in consciousness it will never again be mistaken for what we really are.

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